In the past week, I ran a 5K dressed as Santa Claus and hung out in an ER after convincing myself I was dying from a butt-related disorder. Life at age 31 is just as unpredictable as it ever was.
I should explain. I like a bit of unpredictability in my life. A random hot dog on a car antenna. Birthday surprises. People randomly handing me money.
However, as much as I like unpredictability, this does not pertain to my bowel movements – which SHOULD ALWAYS BE EXACTLY THE SAME. Unfortunately, last week I had a bowel movement that was very much not exactly the same. Oh, how can I put this delicately? It looked as if the Kool-Aid Man had escaped from my butt and exploded in the toilet. Ohhh, nooo!
Needless to say, I was pretty sure I was about to die. From butt bleeding, nonetheless. At least I would go out in style.
To try to calm my nerves in the worst possible way, I quickly did a Google search for "blood in stool," which if you've never done a Google search for that term before, I'd highly recommend you NEVER do so.
The search revealed that I was either dying from internal bleeding or had butt cancer. There were other possibilities on the page, as well, but my mind quickly went to the worst-case scenarios.
So, I did what any man would do in that situation.
I waited to see if it would happen again the next time I used the toilet.
It did. I called the ER.
"Yes. Hello. I'm bleeding from my butt and don't want to die. Would you suggest I stop by?" (Even when potentially dying from butt bleeding, it's important to stay polite.)
So, that's how I ended up in a Chicago hospital emergency department on a weekday night. After a quick checkup, it was determined that I was not in mortal danger and could wait my turn.
After what seemed like forever in the waiting room, followed by some doctor-patient prodding that I would politely describe as uncomfortable, I was diagnosed with a hemorrhoid. Whew. While a hemorrhoid is unpleasant and quite possibly the world's hardest word to spell – I've had to look it up every time so far – it is a million times better than massive internal butt bleeding or butt cancer.
I was sent home from the ER with some cream, stool softener, a renewed lease on life and an AARP membership package.
To celebrate, I got to run a race a few days later – the Chicago Santa Hustle 5K. And while I'm not much of a runner – I finished in a little less than 36 minutes – I did get to wear a Santa suit, which made it worth it.
I just started getting back into shape this year, so I'm not quite able to run a full 5K, yet, which had me walking along the shore of Lake Michigan between miles two and three. As I walked along the path in my suit, beard and cap – a happy strolling Santa munching on M&M's that were being handed out – with little kids and fellow AARP brethren in Santa suits passing me on the left, I marveled at the unpredictability of life.
Sometimes unpredictability is bad and involves butt cream. Sometimes it's good and involves Santa suits and M&M's. But it always make life interesting and worth writing about. And it will continue to do so.
• Going for Gusto is a blog by Joe Grace. Columns, videos, lists and quick thoughts posted throughout the week. Send questions, comments and blog ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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